4 Aug 2015

NZ given C- for championing women's rights

8:13 am on 4 August 2015

Amnesty International has graded New Zealand on its performance on the Security Council so far, with the country getting a C- on women's rights.

The UN Security Council meeting on 29 July 2015.

A meeting of the UN Security Council in July. Photo: AFP

The organisation's report card assesses New Zealand's performance in five categories including protecting civilians in conflict, UN peace operations, making the UN Security Council more effective, championing women's rights and working to address Syria's humanitarian crisis.

Executive director Grant Bayldon said that while New Zealand had made positive steps, including trying to limit the veto power, it had missed a number of key opportunities to champion human rights.

"What is clear is that there is a strong need for improvement if New Zealand wants to leave a lasting legacy that will really contribute to meaningful change when it comes to human rights and saving lives," he said.

Mr Bayldon said New Zealand failed to "champion women's rights" by neglecting the issue of gender inequality during the debate on security challenges to small island developing states.

The country also failed to address past crimes between Israel and Palestine, a move that will delay reconciliation, negatively impact on direct negotiations and jeopardise any future peace, he said.

"This is where New Zealand's role on the Council is crucial and must be used effectively."

Mr Bayldon said New Zealand also needed to address the Syrian refugee crisis which is destabilising the region.

"If New Zealand really wants to make a difference on the Council, the refugee crisis is a good place to start. But New Zealand can't effectively address the biggest humanitarian challenge of our time while refusing to increase its own refugee quota."

But Amnesty International did give New Zealand an A-, the higest grade granted, for making the Council more effective.

It said the country identified the veto power as the single biggest cause of inaction by the council and strongly condemned Russia's use of the veto against setting up an international tribunal for the MH17 crash.

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